by Aaron Garcia
Though the Charlotte Catholic girls lacrosse team fell just short of its ultimate goal of earning a state title – losing to Cary Green Hope, 17-6, in the championship game last month – the Cougars’ season should go down as a resounding success because of the players’ efforts on and off the field this spring.
In January, junior midfielder Peri Strassner’s mother, Anna, was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a result, the Cougars program rallied its support around the Strassners and planned several fundraising efforts to aid the family. Anna Strassner, however, requested the funds be raised for GoJenGo, a local nonprofit that provides financial assistance to underprivileged breast cancer patients.
Charlotte Catholic girls players solicited pledges for each Cougars goal scored during the regular season, while the boys program sponsored a barbecue dinner and sold T-shirts designed by player Ethan Desmond. Anna Strassner said the barbecue raised roughly $3,000, while the T-shirts brought in another $1,000. The Cougars scored 269 regular-season goals and received pledges for $21 per goal, bringing the total to more than $6,500, though Strassner said the final tally is still growing as corporations and private donors continue to come forward.
“It became a group effort,” said Strassner. “It wasn’t just about ‘Peri’s mom who has cancer’ – it was all of them working together for women who have cancer.”
The fundraising also helped her daughter adjust to having a parent diagnosed with cancer, said Strassner.
“This really gave her a whole group of people she could lean on and still be able to enjoy the game and enjoy her season,” Strassner said.
While Strassner still has one surgery to go, she said she was “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of support during the season, especially as the Cougars kicked off their efforts with a March 19 game against Ardrey Kell.
“My heart swelled because there was a huge sense of pride that this is the good that can come out of something awful,” Strassner said. “The blessings have so outweighed the pitfalls of this (disease).”